Appropriations: A Broken Process

Not only was Congress unable to pass a budget resolution this year --passage of appropriations is also in jeopardy.

As predicted, the only appropriation bill completed by Congress for FY 2005 (which begins on October 1, 2004) is the $417.5 billion Defense bill approved on Thursday, July 22.

Partisan politics, an unworkably tight budget cap, and only 18 legislative workdays make even passing an omnibus bill combining the other 12 appropriations before October 1 a huge challenge. If it doesn't happen, there will be continuing resolutions to keep government running, and possibly a lame-duck session after the November elections. A yearlong continuing resolution might even be considered, funding government at last year's levels.

The whole budget process for FY 2005 represents a huge failure by Congress to do what is arguably its most important annual job.

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